Shrouding pollution

a new regulation that limits access to information about many nuclear sites in Russia may frustrate the efforts of environmentalists to find out about nuclear pollution in the Russian Arctic. The new regulation, which is a set of amendments to the 1993 State Secrets law, says that any nuclear installation significant to Russia's defence should be classified. The regulation was signed by President Boris Yeltsin.

This regulation is widely considered to be a response to the case of Aleksandr Nikitin, the former Russian navy officer who was arrested in February 1996 and charged with treason after writing a detailed report about pollution from the Russian Northern Fleet.

However, Vladimir Lopatin, an independent member of the Russian parliament who was a member of the committee which worked out the amendments, insists that Russia will not restrict information about radioactive waste.